the Yeoman Navigator Pro and the slightly smaller, all-weather, and portable
Yeoman Sport XL (both of which list for $710) come programmed with chart
libraries that recognize reference points now printed on Maptech’s
ChartKits and on the new British Admiralty small format charts. When using
these charts, initial orientation is even faster.
Once “in,” you’re free to plot a course. You can sweep
the mouse (or, if you like, pick it up and put it down) anywhere over
the chart, and the LCD will read out the position at the center of the
plotting circle. Mark and enter a point in one place and move the mouse
to a waypoint at another, and the LED will give you your bearing and range.
When you connect a Yeoman to a GPS (the units are NMEA 0183-compliant),
you can plot your position on a chart to within 0.08 inch. Four lighted
arrow-shaped indicators arranged at 90-degree intervals around the mouse’s
plotting circle point the way. As you near your position, the direction
indicators go dark one by one, guiding you with ever greater precision
by a process of elimination. When all indicators are dark, you have pinpointed
your position. This takes just seconds.
With the GPS interface you can also upload waypoints from the chart simply
by moving the plotting circle over the point and pressing a button. Other
capabilities as a result of the interface include course and speed, ETA,
and dead reckoning.
When you connect the Yeoman to a radar, you can send over positions—which
will appear as “lollipops”—from the chart to aid in identifying
and tracking features on your radar screen. By depressing the enter key
for five seconds, you can put a lollipop on the radar screen that will
move in real time as you move the Yeoman mouse over your chart. In this
way you can relate on-screen targets to chart features.
In short, the Yeoman has most of the capabilities of a basic electronic
chartplotter, only instead of working with an image of a chart on a screen,
you handle “the real thing.” This melding of the old and the
new results in some noteworthy rewards.
No manufacturer of electronic navigation systems claims its products are
substitutes for established practices of navigating with paper chart,
and no responsible boater cruises without paper charts as backups to the
onboard electronics. The Yeoman can fail just like any other electronic
device, but when plotting with it you’re likely to produce a hard
copy of your progress as a matter of course, not as a redundancy. And
while the screens in your wheelhouse can go black due to a power failure,
your chart never has that problem—it stays put.
There is also the issue of view and perspective. While you can keep a
wide perspective on even a tiny plotter screen by zooming in and out,
you also have to readjust your sense of scale. Many boaters with screen-equipped
plotters still keep a paper chart at hand for broad, constant orientation
in challenging waters. With the quick positioning possible with a Yeoman,
the “wide-angle” paper backup is all the more valuable.
To some boaters such advantages may not compare to the innovations that
seem to multiply day by day on the latest fully electronic chartplotters,
but others will agree that Yeoman plotters deserve consideration for combining
the best of the old with valuable modern conveniences. Benefits lie on
either side of the bridge that a Yeoman makes between paper and electronic
charts. It may nudge some paper-chart Luddites toward more sophisticated
electronics. And it may urge a few boaters who are perhaps a little too
dependent on their gadgetry back to some important navigational basics.
Weems & Plath (800) 638-0428. Fax: (410) 268-8713. www.weems-plath.com.
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